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Pride vs Prejudice

I’m perplexed by something I’m seeing more and more lately.  Someone, somewhere on some social media site, will make a post stating how proud they are of their (insert heritage, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, gender, etc.).  In essence, they’re simply saying they’re proud of who they are.  The crazy part is that inevitably someone else views this as a personal attack for not sharing the same (insert heritage, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, gender, etc.).

It doesn’t take long for virtual yelling and name-calling to ensue.  It can become quite ugly and nasty.  In fact, it can result in a loss of friends, or even a family feud.

Craziness.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I have no tolerance for bullying or prejudice.  But, there’s a huge difference in someone stating that they’re proud to be an American versus someone saying that anyone not an American is (insert horrible, wrong, worthless, etc.).  A monumental difference.  If someone is proud to be who they really are, why would you belittle them for saying so?

On the flip side, if they say that anyone who is not (insert American, heterosexual, liberal, Catholic, Caucasian, married, etc.) is wrong or stupid or whatever, then why would you even care to engage in a conversation with them?  They’re obviously close-minded.  If they’re narrow-sighted enough to only believe that THEY are right and EVERYONE else is wrong, your words will not sway them into any other view.  Trust me on this.

We should be proud of who we are.  Plain and simple.

That pride doesn’t mean that we dislike any and all who are not just like us in every way.

I’ve said a million times that our differences are what make us so great.  I don’t want all my friends or family to be exactly the same.  I can’t learn anything from someone who shares all the same opinions and beliefs that I have.  Only interacting with those who have different views can bring about the opportunity to learn from one another.  Understanding and accepting the fact that we can each possess our very own belief system, yet be respectful of each other and even be friends, is key to our own personal growth.  Growing is good.  I want to grow.  Don’t you?

We should all take an extra moment to think about what is really being said BEFORE we respond.  We might learn something.  And, that’s something to be proud of.

Saying Goodbye To 2015

I can’t say that I’m sorry to see this year end.  In fact, I’m quite happy for it go.  Don’t get me wrong, 2015 started out nicely.  However, the last quarter went downhill very quickly, and drastically.

For most of the year, things were going smoothly, with only a minor glitch here and there.

Finances were strong and we were able to take care of long neglected necessities, and even took in a much-needed small family weekend vacation.  Paying bills was enjoyable instead of stressful.  Being able to handle emergencies or unexpected expenses was a huge relief instead of pure panic.  We even treated ourselves occasionally with a nice dinner out or a movie, which had previously been far out of our reach.  We were blessed to be in a position to help others in need by making donations or giving gifts, and would take great pleasure in things like surprising someone behind us in a drive-thru by paying for their order.  It was so nice to not have to constantly tell our kids, “I’m sorry, but we can’t afford that.”

Work was plentiful and we took pride in providing for our family.  Long hours could be tiring at times, but we were thankful for them.  We were grateful for the opportunity to do what we do best.  We felt productive and relished in the fact that goals finally appeared to be attainable.

Family is always cherished.  The kids excel in everything they do, have great friends, and are very happy while maturing so much more quickly than we’d like.  We’re a strong family that doesn’t hide from our disagreements that can sometimes turn into full-blown knock-down drag-outs, while always making it extremely evident that we love each other so deeply that we cannot even fathom anyone or anything being able to tear us apart.

Friends are always a blessing.  They are my very own personal support group.  They are treasures that never fail to bring a smile to my face.  They offer encouragement even when I’m unaware that I need it.  They give from their hearts without knowing that their timing is impeccable.  And, they give me nothing but 100% complete honesty, even when it’s hard for me to hear, because they respect me enough to never doubt I’m worth the truth.

And, then…

Work trailed off.  Unexpected expenses blew through our long fought-for savings like a category 5 hurricane.  Finances became a struggle again before the holidays and things became very uncomfortable again.  We know that things will pick up again soon, but we also are familiar with the fact that it always takes longer to get caught up than is expected.

We soon became living examples of Murphy’s Law.  It seemed at every turn some other something was going wrong.  We continued to fight to keep our spirits up and remain focused and positive.  Among the going-wrongs, three different vehicles required costly repairs.  In fact, mine will go into the new year sitting motionless in the front yard until we can afford the needed parts.  And, of course, by then, Scott’s hours will have picked up and we’ll fight for the time for him to be home long enough to actually make said repairs.  His new work location will be a trade-off of him giving us a better payday for spending most nights away from home.  Can’t win for losing, right?

Health has been an enormous issue this past year.  With this large of a family living in such tight quarters, there’s always someone sick as every little illness makes its rounds.  Scott has had two procedures done to try to alleviate severe back pain.  So far, they don’t seem to have helped like we had hoped they would.  I pray that he’ll be pain-free again soon.  I finally started going to the doctor after years of not being able to afford to seek medical care, but unable to take the pain and various symptoms any longer.  Boy, did I open a can of worms there.  I never knew there could be so many different things wrong with one person.  I’m sure neglecting medical attention for so long contributed to the deterioration of my health.  Along the way, some cancer scares came into play in more than one area, but cleared biopsies were more than a mere relief.  Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, insomnia, and various other ailments are finally on their way to being treated.  Ankylosing spondolytis (which is currently the largest source of chronic pain at the moment), bleeding diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and a host of other problems have yet to be treated, but I’m working on them.  Excruciating pain, along with a plethora of other symptoms have rendered me pretty much useless for almost an entire year.  Many days are difficult to function even on a minimal level.  Much of the time I feel as if I’m in a fog and find it almost impossible to focus.  At times, my ability to concentrate on anything at all is gone.  And, yes, I still have a loss of vision in my right eye.  It’s a wonder no one has taken me out back and put me down yet.

But…

My family and friends remain the biggest blessings of my life.  Without even a single one of them, I seriously don’t think I’d make it through one more day.  They are my life support.  They keep me going when I have no idea how to function.  They’ve stepped in to pick up my slack.  They are my heroes.  Scott remains my rock and without hesitation, while in pain himself, takes on even more responsibilities to keep our lives moving forward.  My world continues to exist only because of the help of Scott, Mom, the kids, and my loving friends.  I am more than thankful for each and every one of them.

So…

Going into 2016, I am hopeful that things will pick back up and become our best year ever.  We WILL survive our set-backs and come out further ahead than we could have ever imagined.  We WILL be back on top and finally provide the life we dream of for our family.  We WILL.

My New Year’s wish for all of us, and all of you, is to have all we need, more laughter than sorrow, more sunshine and warmth than stormy weather, more health than sickness, more dreams coming true than nightmares, more flying high than rough and bumpy roads, and more love than hearts could ever hold.

Hello, 2016, please be good to us all.  2015 was a moody bitch.

Happy New Year!

What Is The Answer?

In response to those who feel rioting is justified:

I completely agree that there is a problem. A problem on both sides. I’m very fortunate to not know any “bad” cops. Yet, I am fully aware that they do exist in greater numbers than anyone cares to admit. Does it need to be addressed? Absolutely. However, my stance on the riots remains. There are how many peacefully protesting? Many. The few that are tearing apart their own neighborhood and businesses are accomplishing what, exactly? Taking even more needed money and jobs from their own community? Believe me, I’ve been OUTRAGED at many a thing in my life, but I have yet to physically attack anyone or damage their property. Should these people be frustrated and outraged? Yes, they should! Enough to do something about it? YES!

Is rioting the answer? I don’t believe so. If you can explain to me what issue the rioters’ violence resolves, I’ll be happy to give it due consideration.

And, by the way, these wrongful deaths don’t JUST happen to non-whites and they are not ONLY committed by whites. Is there still a race issue in some areas? Sadly, yes.  Should we do something about it?  Of course.

Is there a problem with crime?  A VERY big problem.  Do we need to make a stand against it?  You bet we do.  But, can we at least admit that criminals come in all colors, shapes, sizes, with little regard to religious, ethnic, or political background?

So, if outbursts of violence, theft, and property damage aren’t the answer, what is?  What can we do to turn this around?

I wish I could make all the problems go away for everyone.  Unfortunately, I can’t, no matter how hard I wish for it.

I know too many people who have come from bad neighborhoods, poverty, broken families, and various other “handicaps” that have gone on to overcome it all.  What pushed them forward?  Determination that they would not fall victim to being defined by their “handicaps”.  Self respect drove them to become the people they wanted to be.  Many had at least one person in their lives that truly believed in them and offered encouragement.

While I believe that in EVERY neighborhood, we need to provide better education, more jobs, and more crime control… I also believe that it takes people who WANT to have a better life.  If a person believes their best, or easiest, option is to be a criminal, that’s all they’ll ever be, no matter what other options are available to them.

So… what is the answer?

I’d say it starts with parents SHOWING and TEACHING their children good work ethics, respect for themselves and others, and to believe.  Believe that they can do better.  Believe that they can be better.

What do you think?

Reflections of 2014

As one year closes and another begins anew, we always find ourselves reflecting.  Looking back… and, looking forward.

We, of course, hope that any unpleasantness is left far behind in the old year and that we will have bestowed upon us a bounty of blessings in the new year.

2014 was a wonderful year in many personal aspects and I truly hope that 2015 will only bring more joy.

It was a year, along with many in the past, that held sorrows from loss.  Deaths of loved ones, lost friendships, missed opportunities, and the pain of burdens carried.  This past year brought about challenges, both difficult and empowering.  It created growth and enlightenment in many areas.  The year was full of changes that were both scary and exhilarating at the same time.  Sadness and joy were at every corner.  Choices were made with the best intentions at heart.

And, I have to say… I think we did okay.

In fact, under the circumstances and starting from little to nothing, I feel that we did more than okay.  Much more than okay.  We still have so far to go, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2014.  So while in many ways I see the year as a disaster worldwide, personally, I’m putting it in the win column for us.

We became more financially stable, to a degree.  Is anything ever really stable?  I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to more easily meet the needs of our family and to randomly be able to help others in various ways.  That’s very important to us.  Obviously, providing for our family comes first, but it’s such a wonderful feeling to be able to do a little something for someone in need.  We’ve been there.  We know what it means for someone to reach out, even when the last thing you WANT to do is take from others.  We’ve had NOTHING so we really do understand the blessing of receiving, no matter how small.  Being wealthy is nowhere in the cards, but getting by is so much easier these days and I’m so thankful for that.  It’s a very peaceful feeling and I’m grateful.  Besides, our wealth comes from much more than just our bank account.

Our relationship is stronger than ever.  Our love is deeper than I’ve ever felt.  We work together to make things happen.  We share the same beliefs, faith, and dreams.  We encourage each other.  We lean on each other.  We keep each other grounded.  And, we enjoy each other.  We keep no secrets from one another and it’s easy to trust each other.  One’s fear is the other’s confidence.  One’s weakness is the other’s strength.  We fit together perfectly.  We have an ease with each other that neither of us has ever experienced with anyone before.  We don’t argue, we discuss.  To be truthful, I’m not sure we ever REALLY even get mad at each other.  We learn from each other and we share every emotion and experience we encounter.  Separately, we are flawed and unraveled.  Together… we are one perfect love.

Our family is doing well, even when encountering setbacks.  To be honest, I think our biggest complaint at the moment is being in such a tiny home and not having anywhere close to enough space for all of us and the things we need.  I love this street (dirt road), mainly because there’s so few people living on it and we’re surrounded on three sides by wooded areas.  Our neighbors are all in front of us.  And, they’re good neighbors.  It’s a quiet neighborhood with friendly people.  And, it’s very comforting knowing that Zac has a “second family” with his best friend right across the street from us.  A few streets up and over is a local pharmacy that has a basketball hoop that the kids play at.  Dairy Queen, Huddle House, and the convenient store are close enough for the kids to walk to.  (Because, you know, allowances burn holes if left in the pockets too long.)  There’s room in most yards for them to play football.  The boys camp, hunt, and hike in the woods all around us.  There is only one middle school and high school in the entire county, and since we’re in the county seat, they’re close by.  Everyone seems to be deeply rooted here and it’s fun learning everyone’s connections to each other.

We live “in town”, but we’re still very much in the “country”.  And, it’s great.  We’re close to all the little stores, local bank, post office, etc.  But, neighbors have chickens that roam freely and visit house to house.  (Which is cool as long as they’re not eating the cats’ food.)  We have room for our dogs to run and play and roll around in the grass.  The cats enjoy hunting squirrels and birds.  Rabbits and deer are spotted on a regular basis throughout the year.  During the summer, we get to enjoy crickets serenading and lightnin’ bugs glowing in the night.  During the winter, the sound of the trains passing less than a block from us to the east echoes even louder through the crisp air.  We have to drive at least 30 miles to get to any type of store or restaurant of size, but it’s a straight shot and no traffic.  Even in the bigger towns closest to us, the biggest traffic jams are laughable compared to driving in Tampa at the least busiest times of day.

There’s really only one major goal for us to achieve.

Our dream is to one day own some of the land next to us to build a farm.  We’d love to have a big farmhouse with a fishing pond, barn, workshop, animals, swimming pond or pool, gardens of vegetables and flowers, a football field for the boys to practice, and lots of woods for ATV’s, dirt bikes, hunting, and camping, a kitchen big enough for cooking large family meals, and a wrap-around porch to take in all the beauty of country living.  We’d love to be able to raise enough food to help our neighbors near and far.  We’d love to rescue animals.  We’d love to help out our little community in every way possible.  This would be a place that our family and friends would always feel welcomed and at home.  Yes, this is a BIG dream.  But, the crazy thing about dreams is you just never know when they may come true.  Until then, we’ll just keep moving forward and working to make it happen.

Hopefully.

One day.

So… what I choose to take with me from 2014 is hope.  Hope that we will continue to thrive.  Hope that our love will continue to grow.  Hope that our generosity is allowed to increase.  Hope that we continue to make friends.  Hope that we’re able to do more and more for our family and those we hold dear.

Hope that we will, one day, make our dream come true.  Together.

 

Thanksgiving 2014

I slacked this year big time.  I did not do my “30 Days Of Thanks”.  I’m a bad girl.  I know.

But, that doesn’t mean that I’m any less thankful for all the blessings I have in my life.

I’m thankful for my family more and more each passing year.  We have adored each other, fought each other, and not spoken to each other… usually all at the same time.  But, we never stop loving each other and appreciating how lucky we are.  Each of them holds such a deep and special place in my heart and I can’t imagine my life without any of them.  Okay, I do fantasize how quiet it might be sometimes, but I’d be lost without them and they know it.

I’m grateful for my friends.  I have some truly special friends that I love as much as my family.  I thank God they have given me the honor of their friendship.  I don’t even want to know where I’d be without their love, support, and encouragement.  I feel so sad for those that have few or no real friends to speak of.  It breaks my heart to think about so many people being lonely… especially during a holiday.

I gripe a lot about where we live and how I dream of us having our own farm and a real HOME.  But, I know we’re lucky to have a place to live at all.  It may not feel like “home”, but it’s a roof over our heads with a place to sleep out of the cold.  And, we’re TOGETHER.

I’m very thankful that our money situation has improved.  We’re not wealthy by any means, but we’re doing it on our own and usually have a little (very little) left over after all the bills are paid.  And, they are paid on time.  I can’t tell you how great that feels!  We were able to save some to have a Christmas this year for the first time in several years.  I’m very, very thankful for that.  We’ve been able to help others out here and there again.  THAT is a most wonderful feeling!  In fact, I believe I am most thankful for that this year than just about anything.

If you get the chance to share your celebration with someone who might be alone, do it!  If you can feed someone who might not have a meal this Thanksgiving, or any day for that matter, do it!  If you find yourself being alone or hungry, please reach out.. whether to us or anyone.  Let’s make each other’s lives better.  More fulfilling.  More enjoyable.  More loving.

Thank you for being in my life.  Thank you for sharing your love with me.  Thank you… for being YOU.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Riots

I haven’t posted my thoughts on this because, frankly, I’m sure I’ll lose several friends over this. Also, I haven’t wanted to get into a heated debate about racism. I love ALL my friends, regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

I find all death sad, and most are unnecessary.

In light of the continued riots in the name of Michael Brown, this is my response.

My heart breaks for his family.  As a mother, I can only imagine the devastation Michael Brown’s mother must be feeling over losing her son.

Could all of this have been handled differently?  I’m sure it could have… by EVERYONE involved.  Am I blaming the victim or his family for what happened?  No.  Was I there?  Do I know all the details of what took place that fateful day?  No, and no.

What I feel most strong about is that this is an issue that is being dealt with all wrong in every way.

What does his color have to do with it? THAT is why racism is still flourishing.  PEOPLE kill people everyday and we only get upset when it’s someone of a different race?  That’s absurd!  We should be upset that it occurs at all.  We should be outraged that crime is so overwhelming in the first place.  We should become enraged by our neighborhoods being overrun by thugs and gangs.  We need to put the anger where it belongs.

This is an issue about CRIME… not race.

If you’ll notice, it’s a mixture of people rioting together.  There are different races involved in protesting.  By the way, rioting and protesting are two entirely different things.  Protesting is a right we Americans possess.  Rioting is a CRIME.

Michael Brown was not a “child”. He obviously felt adult enough to commit crimes. It’s sad that he is dead and that his family has to grieve him. That is the part that is most unfair. But, he did what he did. And, the violence occurring because of the outcome is beyond disrespectful to his family, or even him. And, where were all these people when he obviously needed help in choosing another path in life?

Where were all these people?

Why were they not involved in helping youth make good decisions about their future?  Why are they only showing up after the tragedy?  These people seem concerned for this young man’s well-being, yet they were nowhere to be found when it mattered most.  Why?  Why do we become so vocal in the aftermath, yet were so silent when we could have made a difference?

Why are we not using this loss of life to help prevent it from happening again?

Instead, there are riots in the streets.  There is more crime than ever.  People are losing their businesses that had nothing to do with this.  Property and life is being taken as retaliation for something that should have been prevented.  The onslaught of violence as an answer to this is beyond ridiculous!  I feel for the people caught in the middle of it.  I feel for the ones that are being made to pay the cost of retribution for a crime they didn’t commit.  I especially feel for the family trying to mourn their loss.  In fact, I even feel for the people who are obviously so disillusioned that they feel the need to act out in such a way as to steal, burn down buildings, and beat people to death.  I feel for the law enforcement officers having to walk into all of this and try to restore some sort of peace while also fearing for their lives.

How is rioting the answer?  It’s NOT!

And, the people inciting more violence should be held accountable!  The ones that have a voice should be calling for peace.  The ones that have money and time should be putting into place a system that will help turn young lives around to have a better future.

For God’s sake, people, you’re better than this.  You’re too smart to not see that violence will only lead to more unnecessary deaths… and, more families grieving the loss of a loved one.

STOP IT!  Make a difference for those still living… those still with a future ahead of them… those that are following in your footsteps and learning how to deal with tragedy and pain from YOU.

Those that can have a better tomorrow… starting TODAY.

Social Drama

Drama on Facebook is exhausting. Just reading about the same people whining about the same things is tiring. *sigh* We all have our issues. I get that. I’ve had plenty of my own. Some days are better for us than others. I know. I also know what it’s like to get stuck in a rut that feels like it will never end.  I really do know.

So, here’s my thing. Let’s try to find something positive to focus on each day. Each hour, if you need to. Let’s do this together. Let me know what I can do to help. I want to help. Honestly. If you’re on my Facebook or Twitter feed, then I consider you family or friend and I care. That means I want to keep you as a friend and not have to hide your posts in order to avoid negativity. I know a lot of you are going to think this is directed at you when it isn’t and those of you it is directed at probably won’t have a clue.

But, seriously, I know not everyday is a great day. I know we need to rant, vent, cry, and whine in between the jokes, quizzes, photos, and birthday wishes.  It’s okay.  Most of the time.  But, some people…  just seem to be stuck in this perpetual vacuum of negativity and neediness.  Is it for attention?  Is it a cry for help?  Is it your way of reaching out or sharing yourself?  Let’s do some soul-searching and figure out why so we can work on that.

Everyone needs help at one point or another.  Some, just a little help for a very short period of time.  Others, a LOT of help for a while.  I understand this.  Been there.  And, I’ve certainly done my share of posting about it.  But, I’ve always TRIED to mix in something positive, sometimes more successfully than others.

What I’m saying is, it’s okay to share that you’re going through a rough time.  Just don’t let yourself get stuck in that place.

Don’t allow the negativity to consume you.

And, for the love of God, don’t make it the reason for attention.

Bitch, cry, rant & rave, beg for help if you need it… but, don’t that let be who you become.  There’s more to you than the bad things that happen in life.  Some of us seem to have more than our share of bad luck and it can be frustrating, even overwhelming at times.  Trust me, I completely feel you on this.  But, we’re better than all the bad things.  We.  Are.  Better.

So, please… please, please, please… let’s try to help each other be the best we can be.

Oh, and if you’re negative just because you’re a whiny little bitch and receive pleasure from sucking the energy out of everyone around you… Stop!

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